Music business and lockdown—has the industry gone digital?
As a fan of American as well as German rap music of the noughties socialized throughout the hip-hop subculture, I too have been significantly influenced by the sheer superhuman heights of one Kanye West (Ye). At least musically, Kanye—today self-titled simply “Ye”—was godlike and crafted what was for me one of the most immersive rap experiences. Today, I see him differently: with horror. I see a fallen hero who walks completely erratically through the wreckage of his career and is on his way from being a luminary of hip-hop to becoming a martyr of the New Right scene.
Kanye is God, at least that's what the egocentric rapper and entrepreneur believes about himself. If we limit ourselves here to his music, he certainly possessed this ability for a young urbanite and fan like me. With his groundbreaking musical maximalism, especially in 2010 with his magnum opus "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy", he redefined the entire genre and made it what it is today. He is still a source of inspiration for so many, even outside of music. Also his following projects “YEEZUS,” “THE LIFE OF PABLO,” “ye,” “JESUS IS KING,” or lastly “Donda,” were what they should be: artistic-fragmentary borderline touches and exciting albums in and of themselves. Ye also found his place in fashion and above all redefined sneaker trends. Kanye West is an artist, through and through, and one of the most famous people in the world, whose genius is now finally tipping towards madness.
Kanye West is bipolar. He processed this diagnosis musically for the first time in 2018 released album "ye". He has (had) unchallenged power, surrounded by untold wealth. Within the last twenty years, Ye built himself an empire worth billions. A man with ever more grotesque flights of fancy. Someone who sees himself as a prophet and has let his religiosity become politics. Whether as the most prominent supporter of Donald Trump's or even high-handed presidential candidate, his xenophobic, racist, and anti-Semitic statements overflowed into the media public over time. These were all things that fans somehow accepted with a frown and always silently hoped that these moods would pass.
But recently Ye used a political narrative which is clearly connected to the New Right scene in the context of a fashion show. He wore a shirt that read "White Lives Matter," the radical right's answer to the Black Lives Matter movement. Hardly meant as an ironic comment, but rather to be clearly understood as political agitation. He bullies, he argues, he commits character assassination. He publishes the course of a chat with the rapper Sean Combs or better known as P. Diddy, in which he clearly uses anti-Semitic narratives, which are also massively repeated in other places. To enforce his own political will, he uses conspiracy myths, as they are increasingly finding their way into the public sphere again today. Kanye West has openly proven in recent days that he is anti-Semitic.
The public is turning away from him. Instagram and Twitter (now confirmed to be reactivated by tech genius Elon Musk's buyout of the company) deleted his profiles. His label DefJam announced it would no longer release music by Ye. Fashion giants Gap and Balenciaga cancelled their collaborations with the rapper. And most recently, Adidas emphatically announced it was ending any collaboration with Kanye West and their most famous collaboration, "Yeezy."
With his devastating statements, Kanye West manages to burn all the bridges he has built with his fans and partners over the last twenty years. And the path on which he walks is for me the path from the hero of my youth to a dangerous martyr of the New Right scene. A path on which I, as a day-one fan with contempt for fascist tendencies of any kind, can not follow him.
Originally published on November 7, 2022, updated on November 10, 2022